Digital cameras have been around for quite a while now, and it is no surprise that there are a number of digital cameras that are currently available on the market for less than $100. With the prices of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras soaring up to the skies, the pocket-sized digital cameras are becoming cheaper with time.
Most beginner photographers or teenagers who are enthusiastic about photography often have a very limited budget. Therefore, these cameras offer incredibly simple functionality and can be used to take pictures by literally anyone, even those who have no idea about photography. Moreover, parents can buy these for their children without having the fear of them accidentally damaging an expensive camera.
Choosing which camera to buy depends on your what you look for in a camera, your priorities and of course your budget. Below is a list of five of our favorite digital cameras currently available under $100. It is important to note that whilst these cameras might not be equipped with the latest and greatest technology, they are still some of the best and most iconic devices of their time and offer a great value for their price. That being said, let’s dive into this list and take a look.
1. Sony DSC-W800
- 10x Digital Zoom
- Offers Image Stabilization
- Excellent Video Qualtiy
- Smile Shutter Technology is Interesting
- Limited Recording Options
Megapixels: 20MP | Type: Point and Shoot | Aperture Range: f/3.2-6.4 | ISO range: 100-3200
Last Update on 2020-08-19 using Amazon Product Advertising API
We will start off this list with the Sony Cyber-shot W800 digital camera, which is currently the cheapest digital camera offered by Sony. It is a highly compact point-and-shoot camera and features a plastic body, so the build quality is questionable. However, despite its inferior build quality it offers a bundle of features that make it stand out amongst its competitors.
The Cyber-shot DSC-W800 packs a 20MP CCD sensor. The sensor offers a maximum image resolution of 5152 x 3864 pixels, and you can shoot in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. It comes with a built-in 5x optical zoom lens with an equivalent focal length of 26-130mm. The aperture range of the lens is f/3.2 – 6.4. The W800 has a native ISO range of 100-3200.
There is an option of 10x digital zoom which considerably increases the camera’s reach. Thanks to Sony’s SteadyShot Image Stabilization, the camera provides clear images, negates the effect of camera shake to some extent and reduces image blur. In addition, there is a 360° Sweep Panorama feature which allows you to rotate the camera and take high quality images and then combines the images into a single photo altogether.
For a digital camera, the video quality is truly amazing. You can create 1280p x 720p high definition movies at a steady 30fps. Although there might not be too many recording options, the video quality is very decent and the SteadyShot stabilization helps you to easily zoom in and out while recording.
Another interesting feature of the DSC-W800 is the Smile Shutter technology. By using this feature, the camera automatically captures pictures when it detects a smile in the frame. For a digital camera, this feature works well most of the time, and the Intelligent Auto mode is effective to some extent. In addition, there is a bright 2.7-inch LCD screen that shows various features and allows you to select between them.
Lastly, the W800 has an Easy mode to make the overall user interface more user-friendly and easier to navigate. There are very few entry-level cameras that offer so many useful features at such a low price point. Therefore, the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 proves that it is an excellent buy and for this reason it earns the top spot on our list.
The Canon PowerShot Elph 170 IS is another pocket-sized digital camera that can be bought under $100. It is available in three color variants of black, silver and blue and features a 12x zoom lens. It has a simple and sleek design and incredibly compact dimensions. Moreover, it weighs a mere 141g, which means it is lighter than most smartphones and can easily slide into your pocket.
Speaking about the lens, the Elph 170 IS packs a 12x optical zoom lens with a range of 25-300mm, and an aperture range of f/3.6 to f/7. It boasts a 20 MP CCD sensor and offers a decently sharp image resolution. The camera makes use of Canon’s DIGIC 4+ Image Processor which makes the overall shooting experience a lot faster and more responsive.
The Elph 170 IS features a significantly simple and easy to use button layout. By default, it is set to Auto mode which automatically enhances the image quality and adjusts the camera settings as per the scene. You can even switch it to Program mode which gives you full control of all the settings. You can adjust ISO, exposure, set white balance, and also access various Scene modes. In other words, the operating system of the 170 IS is aimed at amateur photographers, but for more enthusiastic photographers it offers full control of all the settings.
The video quality tops out at 720p and 30 frames per second. The optical stabilization of the lens compensates for camera shake and allows you to capture some really great handheld movies. The videos are stored in QuickTime (MOV) format. In addition, there is a 2.7 inch rear LCD display which shows all the camera settings. However, at 230k dot resolution it is not the sharpest display and there might be some occasional issues occurring with the screen.
Overall, the image quality is fairly decent. One of my complaints regarding this camera is that it lacks Canon’s Creative SteadyShot function which is included in most modern Canon cameras. Moreover, there is no Wi-Fi connectivity too. Other than that, the Canon PowerShot Elph 170 IS is a great portable camera for its price and offers solid image quality in a variety of different environments.
The next entry on our list is the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6: an analog square format point and shoot instant camera with a simple user interface and sleek, attractive design. It is currently available in six color options: Aqua Blue, Blush Gold, Graphite Gray, Ruby Red, the standard White, and the more expensive Taylor Swift limited edition option that further enhances the overall look and style of the camera.
The Instax Square SQ6 has an attractive build. It takes inspiration from the retro Instagram logo: it is a square-shaped camera with a retracting lens that resembles the Insta logo to much extent. It is a highly compact and portable instant camera, and is ideal for family photographing. However, the sleek build comes at a cost: the design is not ergonomic and might be difficult to handle in some situations.
The SQ6 includes three different color filters: orange purple and green that can be used over the flash in order to add color to your photos. The square format means that you don’t have to worry about choosing between portrait or landscape mode. There is auto exposure control that automatically sets the exposure according to the scene. It uses a wide-angle lens with a narrow aperture of f/12.6. In addition, the SQ6 uses the Fuji Instax Square format film, so the film size is 2.4 inches x 2.4 inches without borders and 3.4 inches by 2.8 inches with borders.
At this price point, buying an instant print camera might seem ridiculous, but it is worthy to note that the Instax Square SQ6 gives you tons of creative opportunities. There are plenty of modes to choose from, including Automatic, Selfie, Macro, Landscape, Double exposure, Lighter and Darker. The image quality is impressive for an instant camera. The film quality is even better: the square format combined with the smooth, vibrant color toning gives impressive results in all kinds of shooting conditions. However, there is one downside that the individual film cost is quite high.
In other words, the Instax Square SQ6 is one of the very few instant print cameras that are currently officially available on the market. The film quality is decent, however, it is quite expensive too. The CR2 batteries used to power this device are non-rechargeable and rare to find in today’s time.
On the positive side, it has that attractive, retro look and is fairly easy to use. It is a considerable option for capturing party photos or taking it to vacations for family photoshoots. Lastly, it’s got that nice old-school feel to it and looks good on your shelf.
4. Kodak PixPro FZ53
The Friendly Zoom
- Sleek Design
- Commendable Build Quality
- Lacks 1080p Video Recording
- Questionable Image Results in Poor Lighting
Megapixels: 16MP | Type: Point and Shoot | Aperture Range: f/3.9-6.3 | ISO range: 80-1600
Last Update on 2020-08-19 using Amazon Product Advertising API
Next up on our list we have the Kodak PixPro’s FZ53, which they claim to be a ‘friendly zoom camera’. It is another cheap point and shoot digital camera and comes with interesting new features from its predecessor and multiple shooting modes to express your artistry at its highest. It offers three color options for you to choose from: red, blue and black.
It features a slim, compact and a super sleek design and can easily be fitted in your pocket which makes it highly portable. The camera is made out of high quality plastic that does not feel cheap and is surely durable. Unlike the previous Kodak PixPro FZ43, it comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which is very useful and saves you from the hassle of searching for new batteries when your old one dies.
Moving on to the specifications, the PixPro FZ53 features a 16 Megapixel CCD sensor with 5x optical zoom, thanks to the 28-140mm f/3.9 – 6.3 lens. Moreover, it has a 2.7 inch LCD display with a resolution of 230k pixels that allows you to see the camera settings as well as the mode of operation and most importantly, the shots you have captured. It also includes digital image stabilization that helps in reducing blur or image distortion that occurs due to unsteady movement.
It features 6 different shooting modes such as manual, auto, portrait, etc and multiple SCN (scene) modes such as landscape, sport, sunset, etc. You can also choose from three different options when saving a file for image compression that are best, fine and normal. It also offers single autofocus, multi autofocus with 9 AF points and face detection autofocus.
As for the performance, the camera produces sharp and clear images in good lighting, both indoors and outdoors and the stabilization also works well. However, the quality deteriorates as it gets darker and at night or in bad lighting conditions the images are very poor and noisy even when using the night landscape mode the image quality is subpar and optimum stabilization is extremely necessary to achieve decent images.
It also records video in 720p HD video, however, it lacks 1080p video recording. The 5x optical zoom is also impressive and you can take decent images from a distant place.
All in all, it is a highly portable and user-friendly camera with limited features and decent image quality, however, other competitors might offer more features and better image quality at a higher price. Considering the price, it is a good choice for those on a budget.
To round off our list, we have the Lomography Lomo’Instant digital camera. It is a compact instant camera and comes with three shooting modes namely: Flash on auto mode, flash on manual mode and flash off manual mode.
It features a full plastic body but the build quality feels premium and a boxy look due to which its a bit heavy weighing at almost 380g, not offering the best portability. It is powered by four AAA batteries. The power switch is located at the bottom of the camera and the viewfinder is somewhat awkwardly placed at the left corner which can make it difficult to use.
The Lomography Lomo’Instant offers an aperture range from f/8 which is one of the largest in the instant camera world till f/22 which can be adjusted at f/8, f/11, f/16 which is the default value and f/22. It utilizes the fuji instax mini films that are about the size of a credit card and thankfully, the films are widely available and cheap however, they are very small and still add up the cost if regularly used.
Numerous shots can also be combined into one frame, thanks to the multiple exposures feature that it offers. However, the shutter speed is fixed at 1/125 seconds. The camera also contains a built-in flash and bulb mode for long exposures. It also includes a built-in wide-angle lens which they claim to be an ‘Ultra Advanced-Lens System’ and is also compatible with multiple lenses.
Moreover, the camera settings can be adjusted according to the environment. First of all, the flash on auto mode detects the brightness using a sensor on the flash and emits the right amount of flash with default aperture set on f/16. Secondly, there is a flash on manual mode, which is great for indoor shooting and you can switch between N for normal daytime shots B shutter for long exposures.
Lastly, it has a flash off manual mode which is best suited for long exposures at night and just like flash-on manual mode you can switch between N and B shutter. However, as there is no megapixel count the image result is not totally in your control and it is somewhat a gamble.
To conclude, the Lomography Lomo’instant is a great value for money camera with some tradeoffs that you get in point-and-shoot or mirrorless cameras but you get instant image printed on a film that saves you from the hassle of printing or emailing images, however, you have to pay for the film which makes it expensive for regular use.